ohOn my iPhone’s home screen – far left, second row from the top – is an app that I frequent. In fact, based on my diagnoses, an average of six minutes a day. The small rounded square logo – yellow, white and gray – is designed to represent the top of a notepad. But like most people, I don’t use it as a notepad.
The Notes app – which has its off-brand equivalents for Android users – is my favorite of all apps. He feels trustworthy. It’s certain. This feels like a safe, in which to store my secrets, my thoughts after the fact, my doubts from memory. He’s an old friend to confide in; a place where I can be completely vulnerable.
It is also a place to write down the random measurements of a new refrigerator.
That this unique place can be both for completely secret thoughts and for the most mundane details of life: this is what gives it its unique charm. And that’s why, for the past few years, I’ve been asking my friends to share their Notes with me – and why I’ve started collecting and cataloging them.
In her 2017 debut collection of essays, Too Much and Not the Mood, writer Durga Chew-Bose describes shopping and to-do lists as “non-poems.” Meaningful texts which are, for others, indiscriminate and unintelligible. It’s the same with the Notes app. The language we use is often so prosaic that it becomes a poetry in its own right. An improbable tapestry sewn by proximity. A place where we voluntarily move away.
There is no judgment in this app. No grammar is taken into account, there is no reason to use the spell checker. It’s a completely crude description of our thoughts, messy and confused, and page after page of articles that are rarely titled, of dog names To salad recipe To things I didn’t think I would say today. Looking at them out of context can give rise to a sense of art. It’s jazz – or, honestly, it’s punk.
Sometimes I share my own notes at dinner parties: the perfect conversation starter with phones handy. I watch my friends across the table go through their own apps at the start of the conversation; from curiosity to realization, to mental cataloging, to the sudden discovery of information they thought was lost – but now really needs to share.
Looking through someone else’s notes seems voyeuristic, dirty, almost illegal. The app, when used often, contains our peculiarities and unsettling human qualities, so much so that they could be seen as personality graffiti – marrying boredom with fleeting thoughts, like the words carved into them. cabin stalls. They are also a time capsule, filled with outdated references, numbers and titles, revealing characters, fears, plans and anxieties from the past.
If the theory of multiple universes is true, I think the intersection could be found through our Notes. A set of elements listed across our multiple lives, functioning in parallel with each other. For those who use the app, it’s a secret trust we all share that – like those blurry spots in your eyes when you close them – gives us something else to turn our attention to from time to time.
Since writing this, I have asked many people how they use their notes. A friend uses the app to compose every important text message she sends; another got into the habit of cataloging his drunken thoughts in the cab back from a night out. My girlfriend’s dad just uses it to write down all the measurements he needs on the job.
The way people use this tool can tell us a lot about them. That’s why Notes is my favorite of all apps, and why I keep collecting them as screenshots, almost all anonymous, stored in a folder on my phone. The more I collect, the more I understand that they will always be personal. Only the author can see each note for what it really is.